Friday, 28 November 2008

After the fact: international coverage of Washington summit

G20 summit in Washington took place more than a week ago, on November, the 15th.The event’s coverage reveals how big promises eventually led to little action, as many articles published in the international press tend to prove.

For the Economist (16/11/2008) though it was “not a bad weekend’s work”. Despite a negative headline, the general report reflects some satisfaction . “The success of this weekend’s gathering has permanently changed the machinery of international economic co-operation”. But readers are not told how it did precisely.

Moving away from a European coverage, in Nairobi, the Business Daily Africa (25/11/2008) considers “G20 did not tackle real issues facing financial system”. John Kemp, a Reuters columnist, explains how the comparison with Bretton Woods prepared unrealistic expectations. Both due to a lack of preparation and regulatory will.
The Hindu Business Line (18/11/2008) covered the meeting in a rather critical article available as well on the Chinese Elections and Governance website. It is entitled “G-20 summit: No happy ending”. J. Srivinivasan says the summiteers’ good intentions sound like “political escapism” and highlights a contradiction: “Till yesterday the champions of ‘light touch’ regulations, today they want financial market transparency.”

But good intentions are not enough to moralize finance markets. “None of the banks that took help from British government to recapitalise has passed on interest rate cuts.”
According to J. Srivinivasan, China and India differed in their response to the crisis and have been blamed for doing what G20 leaders are promising now: “Strengthening countries financial regulatory regimes”.

As a consequence, Washington may partly give up its leading role. Martine Bulard, in Le Monde Diplomatique (French edition, November 2008) outlines the increasing importance of China who “became the United-States banker”. Al Ahram Weekly (20-26/11/2008), published in Cairo, develops the same argument. Gamal Nkrumah says “China, however, would not bail out the Western nations unconditionally”, hinting at a new stake in international relations. This may be the last but not least political consequence of the economic crisis.